I have heard a ton of horror stories about women who have been searching for a doctor who will perform a tubal ligation or write an Rx for permanent birth control (an implant) , yet are unable to find one who is willing to impede their fertility permanently because they are still “women of reproductive age.”
Simply put, in most places in this country women that are still young enough to produce viable eggs will not find it easy to obtain a permanent “de-fertility” option. Are you 27 and want your tubes tied? Sorry, you may want kids later, trust us. Have children but don’t want anymore and are tired of taking a daily pill to prevent children? Just keep that up for 10 more years, next thing you’ll know, you will hit menopause and voila! Problem solved.
Except this is all bullshit, because women are not required to produce children, yet they are expected to be the sole responsible party for the life and death of the human race. Women of reproductive age are expected to not only have children, but to desire children. If they don’t want children, they are murderers (pro-choice) , uninformed or just plain sick in the head.
The argument many people present in support of this notion is that it’s a woman’s duty to reproduce and she should want to reproduce and that women reproducing is somehow a biological trait and ignoring biology is not natural. It is often referred to as the “biological clock”: the unseen, metaphorical allusion to some scientific part of the female anatomy which dictates when we start being able to produce babies and when we stop.
Often, women are portrayed as fighting this biological clock as they try to have children later in age. Take for instance the new romantic comedy starring Jennifer Lopez , The Backup Plan. In this film, Lopez’s character attempts to conceive via in vitro fertilization and finds herself pregnant after finding the love of her life. Corny plot aside, the point is Lopez’s character literally mentions her biological clock either in name or allusion several times throughout the movie.
Of course, whether there is a biological ticker dictating when I can and cannot start having children is not actually a scientific fact. If it is indeed in existence it would not govern whether I want to have children or not. It does not and should not make me desire or not desire children.
According to many cultures today, women are perceived not to be capable of intellectually deciding they do not want children. There are many instances in which women who do not want to have children are categorized as abnormal, sick or not sane. As if women who don’t want babies are “ignoring biology” or something. Unfortunately, the consequence of this social norm is evident in the role it plays in the fight for reproductive freedom.
We all watched in horror as the Oklahoma legislature overwhelmingly passed a bill which would require invasive, vaginal ultrasounds to women seeking an abortion and would also require the women to fill out a detailed questionnaire that would be posted on the state intranet for demographic purposes. The reason for this is to make sure pregnant women know everything there is to know about the fetus before they abort, as if they somehow didn’t get it before.
A leading proponent of that bill, which was ultimately vetoed by the governor , Tony Lauinger said,
“It is just as important for a woman who is pregnant as a result of rape or incest as it is for any other woman to have the benefit of full and complete information prior to taking the irrevocable step of having her baby aborted.”
The message is fairly clear in this one comment: women who want to abort, or not have children, are not fully aware of the choices and/or consequences of the choices they are making- let us inform them.
What is obvious to many people outside of politics and the pro -life movement, is that most of these politicians vote yes on bills such as the one mentioned above to pander to groups for money and voters. I am not convinced they actually care about “unborn fetuses” or informing women – they just want your money and vote.
The problem is the message these bills convey – they restrict women’s access to reproductive health (includes abortion, contraception and sexual education). Regardless if the bills pass or not, the message is that women still cant make their own decisions. This message pervades every part of American life and culture and invades the consciousness of both the young and old, continuing dangerous ideas about women and a woman’s role in society.
This idea that women cannot make decisions for themselves is part of why women are not supposed to rationally choose to not want children, because it is unnatural and because women who say, “I don’t want children” must somehow be uninformed. This is why we have seen a deluge of bills and social action across the country trying to strip women of the right to choose when, if and how they want to reproduce. The affects are painful now and in 30 years there may not be any right to choose for women. What are seen now as small nicks at equality for women could turn into full blown setbacks if dire action is not taken.